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Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French All-in-One, Premium Second Edition

Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French All-in-One, Premium Second Edition

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Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French All-in-One, Premium Second Edition

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Jul 27, 2018


The most comprehensive way to learn French – with seven bestselling books in one!
Drawn from seven workbooks from the bestselling Practice Makes Perfect series, this powerhouse volume features all the knowledge and practice you need to master French. With Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French All-in-One, you will build your French vocabulary, straighten out your sentences, overcome your fear of verb tenses, master the intricacies of grammar, and much more. This value-packed workbook covers all the facets of French and offers thorough explanations that are reinforced by hundreds of hands-on practice exercises.
You will, or course, get plenty of practice, practice, practice using all your new French skills. Whether you are learning on your own or taking a beginning French class, Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French All-in-One will help you master French in no time at all.
Annie Heminway, editor, teaches grammar, creative writing, translation, African cinema, and classic and Francophone literature at the SCPS of New York University. She is also a translator and an editor for Francophone publishers. In 2006 she was awarded the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French government in recognition of her work in promoting the study of French.
FLASHCARDS to aid memorization of all vocabulary items● STREAMING AUDIO for hundreds of exercise answers to model your pronunciation● PROGRESS TRACKER to assess your progress
Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French All-in-One helps you:
● Learn French vocabulary● Get a solid grasp on grammar● Determine when to use different verb tenses● Master spelling and punctuate rules● Converse confidently in your new language Build correct sentence structures
Lançado em:
Jul 27, 2018

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Practice Makes Perfect - Annie Heminway

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1 Articles

2 Basic gender endings: Masculin and féminin

3 More French nouns and their gender

4 Numbers

5 Vocabulary: Thoughts, feelings, communicating, home, travel, science, leisure, and technology

6 Building sentences

7 Asking questions

8 Exclamations and commands

9 Independent clauses and subordinate clauses

10 The present tense of -er verbs

11 The present of -ir and -re verbs

12 Être, avoir, and other irregular verbs

13 The immediate future, the immediate past, and the causative form

14 Pronominal verbs

15 The passé composé

16 The imparfait and the plus-que-parfait

17 The simple future and the past future

18 The present conditional and the past conditional

19 Could, should, would?

20 The present subjunctive and the past subjunctive

21 Prepositions

22 The infinitive mood

23 The imperative mood

24 The present participle and gerund

25 The simple past, the passive voice, and indirect speech

26 Pronouns

27 Relative pronouns

28 Adjectives

29 Adverbs

30 Written French: Making transitions and written correspondence

31 Verb transfers and confusing verbs

32 Whatever, whenever, wherever: French oddities and fun with prepositions

33 French in conversation: Meeting people

34 French in conversation: Making conversation and making plans

35 French in conversation: Discussing current events

36 French in conversation: Asking for help

37 A taste of French literature

Appendix A French pronunciation

Appendix B Grammatical terminology for verbs

Appendix C French verb tables

Appendix D French-English / English-French glossary

Answer key



The idea of a book containing all knowledge is probably as old as literacy. In one of his brilliant short fiction collections, The Book of Sand, Jorge Luis Borges describes the paradox of infinity contained between the covers of a book. As every student of French knows, there are always lacunae to fill—lexical, syntactic, orthographic, and so on. Despite any progress, the learner feels not only overwhelmed, but also stuck in quicksand, unable to reach solid ground. However, a solid foundation exists, and its title is Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French All-in-One.

This book provides a map of the French language—a cartographic representation, as it were—of the Empire of the French language, encompassing seven provinces. What makes this map self-sufficient is the fact that it contains numerous clues and indications to guide the wanderer through lesser-known, or even unmapped, labyrinths. Distilling the best content from seven Practice Makes Perfect titles, this book features hand-picked selections from the following:

Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French Grammar may not include every grammatical rule conceivable to man or woman; nevertheless, it provides a general idea of French grammar, which you can use as a compass.

Practice Makes Perfect: French Nouns and Their Genders Up Close entertains the quizzical world of French nouns, where words sometimes have two genders or even seem undecided. In this region, you will learn how to detect the correct gender of nouns on the basis of their context.

Practice Makes Perfect: French Vocabulary, relying on its thematic structure, encourages the development of a rich vocabulary by starting from your own particular interests and naturally moving from a familiar context to lesser-known fields.

In Practice Makes Perfect: French Sentence Builder, you’ll assume the role of an architect, metaphorically speaking, of course. Nevertheless, you will learn, just as architects do, that a clear conception must precede the work of a building a structure. In this section, as in the others, engaging exercises and examples drawn from real life lead to a mastery of syntactic forms.

It has been said that French prepositions are the Achilles’ heel of highly proficient French students. Indeed, a wrong preposition can totally demolish an elegant French speaker’s reputation. However, Practice Makes Perfect: French Pronouns and Prepositions provides a plethora of exercises, based on written French and everyday daily discourse, which will develop an ability to pick the right preposition and to grasp the preposition-pronoun synergy in French.

In the breathtaking province of Practice Makes Perfect: French Verb Tenses, the student learns to perceive time, particularly the past, in a new way. Grammar manuals may describe a tense, but a visit to this province teaches us the inimitable art of modulating tenses, from passé composé to passé simple to imparfait naturally and seamlessly as the narrative unfolds, just as a master of French prose would.

Practice Makes Perfect: French Problem Solver tackles the many conundrums that haunt even the most accomplished learner. For example, a manual of grammar merely describes the dance of pronouns in a sentence with two pronouns; this section strives to explain the dance itself, thus encouraging you to look at what’s behind grammatical rules.

And new to this premium second edition, recordings of the answers to numerous exercises are provided via the McGraw-Hill Education Language Lab app. This streaming audio will help readers improve both listening and speaking skills.



The definite article with nouns

Let’s first look at the definite article. All nouns in French have a gender: masculine or feminine, whether they refer to a person, an animal, a thing, or an abstract notion. While English has only one definite article the, French uses le for masculine nouns and la for feminine nouns. Le and la are shortened to l’ before a singular noun or adjective that begins with a vowel sound. The plural les is used for both masculine and feminine.

Le and la become lin front of singular nouns starting with a vowel or a mute h.


The indefinite and partitive articles with nouns

The indefinite articles are un (masculine singular) (a), une (feminine singular) (a), and des (both masculine and feminine plural) (some).

The partitive article

The partitive article is used when the exact quantity of an item is unknown. In English, the partitive article is often omitted. We say, I want bread or I want some bread. However, the partitive article is always required in French. It is formed by combining de and the definite article.

When used in the negative, the du, de la, and des all become de, since the quantity of the item doesn’t exist any longer.

One exception to this rule is when using the verb être (to be). In the negative, the partitive article is always used with être.



Compléter avec l’article partitif approprié.

1. Il prend ______ vacances.

2. Nous mangeons ______ pain.

3. Elle visite ______ monuments.

4. Elle a ______ chance.

5. Il met ______ ail dans la salade.

6. Vous choisissez ______ cadeaux pour vos amis.

7. Il boit ______ lait.

8. Nous envoyons ______ cartes postales en vacances.

9. Tu plantes ______ légumes.

10. Elle veut ______ crème fraîche.

Accent on accents

There is an annoying tendency, quite widespread in the English-speaking world, to dismiss French accents as another example of Gallic eccentricity. In fact, there are reference sources, whose publishers shall remain unnamed, containing thousands of titles, without accents, of French-language publications. French accents are a nuisance, these publishers maintain, and what counts is correct spelling. Indeed, but while we’re talking about correct spelling, let us remind the anti-accent crowd that the result of removing a needed accent is a typo.

As we shall see, French accents, which by the way have nothing to do with stress, not only indicate the correct pronunciation of a vowel, but also act as semantic markers. For example, consider the following two exclamations:

Vivre . . . ou . . . ?

Vivre . . . où . . . ?

They may sound the same, but their meaning is completely different. The first phrase, which might remind us of the dilemma expressed in Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, could be translated as: To live . . . or to . . . ?

Perhaps expressing some confusion, but definitely lacking any sinister overtones, the second phrase means: To live . . . where . . . ?

Or imagine getting a photograph of a friend at the Louvre Pyramid in Paris. Without the necessary accent, the caption would read:

Marie a la pyramide du Louvre.

This literally means: Marie has the Louvre Pyramid.

Without the accent grave, a is the third-person singular of the verb avoir; when we add the accent grave, as in à, we get a preposition! Now you know why people who denigrate French accents are not to be trusted.

There are four accents in French for vowels and a cedilla for the consonant c. In most cases, their main purpose is to modify the pronunciation of a vowel, except for the cedilla, of course, which modifies the pronunciation of a consonant.


The accent aigu (acute accent) ´ is used only with the vowel e, as in été (summer), and it indicates that the vowel should be pronounced as a closed e. Think of the e in the English word bed. Here are other examples:

In some words the initial é replaces an initial s that figures in earlier Latin and Old French forms. Note that the Latin s is still alive in the English cognates. Let’s look at a few examples:

È, À, and Ù

The accent grave (grave accent) ` is used on the vowels a, e, and u, as in à (at, in) and mère (mother), and has a more open pronunciation. For example, è resembles the vowel sound in the English word bad. (If you ever meet someone from Geneva, Switzerland, ask him or her to pronounce the name of that city: Genève. You will hear a deliciously open vowel in the second syllable.) Let’s look at other examples:


The accent circonflexe ˆ (circumflex) can be found on a, e, i, o, and u:

If the English cognate contains an s that is missing in the French word, you may assume that the French word will need a circumflex accent, which fills the space created by the disappearance of the s in French. Most of these words, as you may have guessed, are derived from Latin. For example:

It is important to identify the meaning of words. Look at the examples:


Another accent is the tréma, or diaeresis. The diaeresis is used when two vowels are next to each other and the accented vowel represents a separate sound. In other words, both vowels in a diphthong must be articulated. For example:

La cédille

There is also a graphic sign called la cédille, ç. The cédille (cedilla) is found only under the letter c before the vowels a, o, and u. It changes the hard sound of catalogue (catalog) (like a k) into a soft sound of ça (this, that). It is not used with the vowels e and i.

It is important to remember to use the cédille when conjugating verbs in different tenses:



Choose the right form of the verb.

1. La journaliste annonçait/annoncait/annonssait les résultats de l’élection quand il y a eu une panne d’électricité.

2. Nous voyagons/voyageons/voyageeons en Sicile chaque automne.

3. Vous reconnaîssez/reconnaissez/reconnaiçez votre erreur.

4. Après la fête, mes amis rangèrent/rangerent/rangairent la maison très vite.

5. Élodie manga/mangai/mangea une crème brûlée.

6. Tu as été réveillé/reveillé/rêveillé par le chant du coq.

7. Je reconnaitrais/reconnaîtrais/reconnaîtrait la chanson si vous la chantiez.

8. Tous les étés, nous finançons/financons/finanssons une bibliothèque mobile.

9. J’ai enfin recu/ressu/reçu ma commande de livres.

10. Les associations écologiques empêchèrent/empecherent/empéchèrent le départ du vieux bateau.



Restore the accents or the graphic signs in the following passage. (See Translations at the back of this book for the English.)

La porte etroite, André Gide (1909)

—Tiens! Ma porte n’etait donc pas fermee? dit-elle.

—J’ai frappe; tu n’as pas repondu, Alissa, tu sais que je pars demain?

Elle ne repondit rien, mais posa sur la cheminee le collier qu’elle ne parvenait pas a agrafer. Le mot: fiancailles me paraissait trop nu, trop brutal, j’employai je ne sais quelle periphrase a la place. Des qu’Alissa me comprit, il me parut qu’elle chancela, s’appuya contre la cheminee … mais j’etais moi-meme si tremblant que craintivement j’evitais de regarder vers elle.

J’etais pres d’elle et, sans lever les yeux, lui pris la main; elle ne se degagea pas, mais, inclinant un peu son visage et soulevant un peu ma main, elle y posa ses levres et murmura, appuyee a demi contre moi:

—Non, Jerome, non; ne nous fiancons pas, je t’en prie … [ … ]


—Mais c’est moi qui peux te demander: pourquoi? pourquoi changer?

Je n’osais lui parler de la conversation de la veille, mais sans doute elle sentit que j’y pensais, et, comme une reponse a ma pensee, dit en me regardant fixement:

—Tu te meprends, mon ami: je n’ai pas besoin de tant de bonheur. Ne sommes-nous pas heureux ainsi?

Elle s’efforcait en vain a sourire.

—Non, puisque je dois te quitter.

—Ecoute, Jerome, je ne puis te parler ce soir … Ne gatons pas nos derniers instants … Non, non. Je t’aime autant que jamais; rassure-toi. Je t’ecrirai; je t’expliquerai. Je te promets de t’ecrire, des demain … des que tu seras parti. Va, maintenant!

The h aspiré

In the French language, about 1,500 words start with the letter h. And of these, three hundred of them are called h aspiré.

You are acquainted with nouns like l’habitant (inhabitant), l’habitude (habit), l’hélicoptère (helicopter), l’heure (hour, time), l’histoire (history, story), l’hiver (winter), l’homme (man), l’hôpital (hospital), l’hôtel (hotel), l’huile (oil), and so on. These nouns start with an h that is silent and the article that precedes them needs an apostrophe.

The h aspiré is also silent, but the liaison between the article and the noun is not allowed, so there is no apostrophe on the article. Here are some of the most important nouns with h aspiré:

This is of the utmost importance, for you don’t want the French laughing at you when they hear: les héros de la Révolution, which when pronounced without the aspiration sounds like The zeros (dummies) of the Revolution!

As we’ve seen before, rules can be unreliable, so it’s better to remember words in context.



Using the preceding vocabulary list of h aspiré words, translate the following sentences using the est-ce que form and tu when necessary.

1. The hierarchy in this organization is a game of chance.

2. The hero of this new film is a man who lives in the hamlet next to our village.

3. The hatred between the two brothers is well-known.

4. Nora is surprised by the increase of the prices of the hotel’s restaurant.

5. The hors-d’oeuvres they served were delicious.

6. Do you want to order the lobster on the menu?

7. Carole’s father fractured his hip last week.

8. The hammock in the garden is a gift from Laurent.

9. The cold winter in this city is the main handicap for our grandparents.

10. The shame of his defeat is hard to accept.


In French, the capitalization of words differs quite a bit from English capitalization. After all this business of rules but no rules, one rule is pretty solid: capitalization is more frequent in English than it is in French. Let’s look at a few examples.


Adjectives that refer to nationalities are capitalized in English but not in French. Nouns that refer to nationalities are capitalized in both languages. For example:


Languages are capitalized in English but not in French. For example:


When you write an address, the words for street, avenue, place, and other names for roads are not capitalized. For example:

25, rue de l’Université

55, avenue de Neuilly

110, boulevard des Capucines

37, quai Branly

1, place des Abbesses

7, impasse de la Tonnelle

Dates, time, days, months, and seasons

Such words are not capitalized. For example:


In French, the names of religions tend not to be capitalized except l’Islam (Islam):

Geographical nouns

Geographic names, as we have seen at the beginning of this chapter, are capitalized: l’Asie (Asia), l’Europe (Europe), les États-Unis (United States), la Loire (Loire River), La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans), La Havane (Havana), Aix-en-Provence (Aix-en-Provence).

If the geographic noun is composed of a generic name (bay, cape, river, sea, etc.) and a specific noun, only the specific noun is capitalized:

You will run into many other cases like l’Asie centrale (Central Asia), l’Asie Mineure (Asia Minor), l’Asie du Sud-Est (Southeast Asia), l’Arabie Saoudite (Saudi Arabia), le Moyen-Orient (the Middle East), l’Extrême-Orient (the Far East), les Grands Lacs (the Great Lakes), so check your dictionary.



Translate the following sentences. Be aware of the capitalization of words, using tu when necessary.

1. Jean is Belgian.

2. Isabella is Hungarian.

3. Bruno’s children speak French with their friends and English with their parents.

4. In Greece, winter is mild.

5. Lucie was born on February 28.

6. The jazz festival takes place from July 1 to 4.

7. The Mediterranean Sea is less salty than the Dead Sea.

8. Spanish and Portuguese are the main languages in Latin America.

9. The South Pole is in the Antarctic.

10. When you are skiing in the Alps, you can go from France to Slovenia.

Addressing people

When writing to people in French, capitalize most titles:

Monsieur Verneuil

Madame Deneuve

Maître Didier Lebon

Monsieur le Recteur de l’académie de Poitiers

Monsieur le Premier ministre

Accents on capitals

An old topic for debate: are accents needed on capitals? Although there is still some disagreement, it is absolutely necessary to use accents on capitals to avoid misinterpretation. Here are a few examples of headlines in a newspaper. You’ll see how including accents makes a significant difference!

And for another reason, it is simply more elegant in prose. It’s a question of pure aesthetics. Just take a look:

Étant donné la promotion d’Air France pour les vols à destination des États-Unis, Ève et Édouard ont décidé de passer une semaine à la Nouvelle-Orléans.

Given the Air France promotion for flights to the USA, Ève and Édouard have decided to spend a week in New Orleans.

So, all to your keyboards!


Basic gender endings: Masculin and féminin

Basic endings

As you already know, there are two genders in French: masculine and feminine, preceded by the definite article le, la or the indefinite article un, une. Since the purpose of this book is to forge a reliable method of identifying and learning French genders, we will learn the fundamental rules governing genders, starting with masculine nouns and then moving on the feminine nouns. Along with the rules, we will identify their exceptions. Indeed, exceptions to grammatical rules can be annoying, but this is a flaw of all natural languages. (Only constructed languages, such as Esperanto, contain rules without exceptions.)

While you may be tempted to say that French gender can sometimes be arbitrary, you do have some name endings to rely on. Memorization is crucial. Every new word must be learned in conjunction with its gender. This knowledge, as you will find out, quickly becomes tacit, internalized. After some practice, you will be able to identify the gender of a word by relying on your intuition, without even having to think in terms of rules and exceptions.

In your mind, each word will become like a short musical phrase. You won’t have to think which key, major or minor, the musical phrase is in. You will simply know. When you study music, you learn scales. In French: do, ré, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do. Learning endings is similar. Le train, le bateau, and le vin will appear on your masculine scale, whereas la beauté, la nature, and la culture will register on your feminine scale. French is all about sounds. Gustave Flaubert used to isolate himself and shout his novels aloud in his gueuloir—more or less his screaming room—to make sure the words flowed beautifully. Think of endings as musical notes on a score.

In this chapter, you will learn how to connect a noun to its gender marker by studying the main endings of masculine nouns. Feminine nouns will follow. For example, nouns ending in a consonant or in any vowel but e tend to be masculine:

As we proceed, remember to focus on the endings and, at the same time, to memorize any exceptions that may crop up.

Basic masculine noun endings

The following endings tend to be masculine.

-age, -ige, -ège, -oge, -uge

However, there are a few exceptions:

-ail, -euil


There is one exception: la main (hand).


-ament, -ement


-eau, -ou


-ent, -ant

Here is one exception: la dent (tooth). And more Latin: dens (tooth) is feminine.



-at, -et, -t

Here are quite a few important exceptions:


Nouns ending in -eur include names of professions as well as words denoting certain tools and machines.




One exception is la fin (end).


There are two exceptions: la souris (mouse) and la vis (screw).


-oir, -oin

-on, -om

Here are a few exceptions:


Nouns ending with -phone are masculine, often referring to machines and instruments connected to sound. This is a bit funny, because this ending stems from the Greek word for voice, phōnē, which is feminine, just as the French word voix, which comes from the equally feminine Latin vox. Yes, Greek, too, lurks behind the scenes, but there is no need for panic. In French, we get to enjoy the lexical opulence of the two classical languages without having to learn their respective grammars. That is a good thing, of course, since French grammar, as we know, is enough of a challenge.


Nouns ending in -scope refer to optical instruments and related things, which makes sense, because the suffix comes from the Greek verb skopeo, which means I look and I spy on someone.

Other masculine endings

You thought you were done with masculine endings? Not so fast. There are other interesting cases.


Nouns ending with -a are usually masculine:

However, there are a few exceptions:

This may be quite confusing, since we know that -a is generally a feminine ending in Romance languages. Indeed, French can be a bit peculiar, but there is an explanation. Unlike the other Romance languages, French did not keep the -a ending in Latin-derived feminine nouns.


Nouns ending with -as are generally masculine:

-ème, -me, -ome, -ôme, -aume, -rme, -sme

Nouns ending in -ème, -me, -ome, -ôme, -aume, -rme, and -sme tend to be masculine:

-ble, -cle, -gle, -ple

Nouns ending in -ble, -cle, -gle, and -ple are often masculine:

Here are some interesting exceptions, all with a Latin pedigree, except for la bible, a Greek interloper. The Greek neuter plural (ta biblia), which means the books, having become feminine in Romance languages because of its deceptive -a ending, was bound to become -e in French. Back to our Latin-derived exceptions:

-ac, -ak, -ic, -oc, -uc

Nouns ending in -ac, -ak, -ic, -oc, and -uc tend to be masculine:


Nouns ending in -g are generally masculine:

-o, -op, -ort, -os, -ot, -ours, -us

Nouns ending in -o, -op, -ort, -os, -ot, -ours, and -us are usually masculine:

Remember that gender does not change when a word is abbreviated:


Nouns ending in -ogue that refer to certain professionals may be masculine or feminine. For example, while Claude Lévi-Strauss was un anthropologue (anthropologist), we would call Margaret Mead une anthropologue.

-r, -er

Nouns ending in -r and -er are generally masculine:

One exception to this rule is words ending in -eur when they do not denote a profession or a machine. Here are three additional exceptions:


Nouns ending in -re are generally masculine:

These are some exceptions:

-x, -xe

For the most part, nouns ending in -x and -xe are masculine:

Here are some exceptions:

Interestingly, the word syntax is a derivation of the feminine Greek noun taxis, meaning battle array.


Many nouns ending in -e are masculine, although there are some rather prominent feminine nouns in that category, such as la gloire. It is a mistake, however, to assume that the -e ending automatically defines a noun as feminine. Here are some examples:

Basic feminine noun endings

The following nouns tend to be feminine:


Here are a few exceptions:



Here are a couple of exceptions:

-aison, -oison

Here are a few exceptions:

-ence, -ance

Here is an exception: le silence (silence).



Here are a few exceptions:

Words indicating quantity are often feminine:

-esse, -osse, -ousse

Here are a couple of exceptions:


Here are some interesting exceptions:

-eur (excluding nouns denoting professions and machines)

Here are some exceptions:

-ie, -rie

More exceptions to add to the list include:



An exception is le braille (Braille). This exception could be explained by the fact that the Braille alphabet was named after its inventor, Louis Braille (1809–1852).


Here is a trio of exceptions:


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